A court has heard how a drunken thug who armed himself with a hammer during a confrontation was arrested after being spotted creeping through the garden of his intended victim.

Sam Callaghan became embroiled in the dispute in Darlington before leaving the scene on June 16 this year.

However, he later returned unaware that the police had been called to the incident in the Cockerton area of town.

Uzma Khan, prosecuting, said the 22-year-old was spotted in the garden and officers raced through the house to confront the suspect before he could threaten the man with the hammer.

Read next: Raids and arrests as police target crime across Teesside

She said: “When the police were there, someone shouted ‘they are in the garden’. The police ran through the house and saw the defendant approaching from the side of the fence and he had in his hand a hammer and was behaving in a threatening manner.

“The officer pulled out his Taser and pointed it at him legs and told him to drop the hammer. He has complied immediately and dropped the hammer, saying ‘I didn’t know you were here’.”

Callaghan, whose address can not be revealed for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to threatening behaviour with an offensive weapon.

Michael Cahill, mitigating, said his client struggled with his ADHD diagnosis but had few convictions on his record.

He added: “There wasn’t any direct confrontation with the homeowner until the police were already there.”

Judge Timothy Stead warned Callaghan he needed to address his alcohol issues as he spared him from an immediate custodial sentence after he threatened the man with the hammer.

Read more:

​Get all the latest crime and court updates, for less than the price of a coffee, with a Premium Plus digital subscription to The Northern Echo. Click here

“When you drink, you get into trouble, so you are going to have to watch that,” he said.

“Threatening people with hammers – there are many people who do go to prison for that sort of thing. You’re not, I am giving you a chance to avoid that.”

The judge at Teesside Crown Court sentenced the defendant to eight months in prison suspended for two years and ordered him to attend 60 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

Callaghan was also issued with a three-year restraining order to ensure that he stays away from his intended the victim.